Literally and figuratively made from the same mold, French-Filipino siblings Lani and Dean Taylor Pasquet share how family and adaptability have become the recipe for success of international design sensation, La Galuche Inc.
Stingray leather or shagreen is a coveted commodity these days. Once a rawhide esteemed by samurai masters and European aristocrats for its exceptional mix of beauty and durability, shagreen has made a comeback in recent years as one of the most sought-after leathers for furniture, clothing accessories, and even fashion.
That makes it a veritable gold mine for La Galuche, one of the few furniture manufacturers in the world that produce their own stingray leather, among other exotic skins. At the heart of La Galuche’s steady rise is the synergy between General Manager Lani Taylor Pasquet and her brother Dean, La Galuche’s web and production manager. But what’s ironic is that the company is older than either one of them. It was their father, Frenchman Jean-Marc Pasquet, who started working with the stingray in 1982.
“He studied gemology so his background is really in jewelry,” Dean said. “He would travel to almost every country to buy precious stones, go back to France, and sell to Cartier and Place Vendôme—the best place in Paris to buy jewelry.” According to Dean, their father eventually started sourcing out exotic skins to make jewelry, a venture that he ultimately expanded to furniture.
“Sometimes he’d stay two weeks in France then leave for another two weeks to be in the Philippines [to oversee the factory in Cebu],” Dean recalled.
Perhaps due to the nature of their father’s profession or his hobby of sailing, their family set-up was not what most would call conventional.
“Every summer we’d live in a boat for three months,” Lani fondly shared. “We’d go to the Philippines, Phuket, Malaysia, and other places in Asia. In fact, my dad wanted us to live in the boat for real but my mom said, ‘No way, I’m a city girl!’” Their Manileña mother, Candy, an English teacher who had met Jean-Marc at a party in Paris, insisted on her preference for the urban lifestyle.
Their father’s laidback vibe seems have rubbed off on the two who drove together to Crimson Beach Resort and Spa on the morning of the photo shoot. Dean was dressed casually in a T-shirt and a pair of shorts whereas Lani greeted us in a flowing maxi dress, her face devoid of any makeup. Not that she needed any; the twenty-five-year-old is a deadringer for Isabella Rosellini and is no novice to photo shoots, having been featured in a few glossies and in the recent ad campaign of Cebu brand Islands Souvenirs.
“I was born in Paris,” Lani said,”but for my first three years, we lived in Cebu. I was even baptized in Liloan [in northern Cebu]. My dad still had the company there at the time.
“When Dean was born, we moved to Paris for ten years. We lived on top of our French grandparents’ arts supplies shop. From school, I’d go to the shop and play with pens. We were always exposed to design and art especially because architects went to buy supplies in the shop.”
Lani looks up to her grandmother whom she said she got her character and taste from: “She is really the one who has an eye for beauty. My grandparents have a beautiful house in Cannes that is so detailed; every room has a theme. She influenced me a lot.”
In fact, Lani wanted to be an architect at first but chose to take up marketing management for more practical reasons.
“France is not like the Philippines where there is a new construction site around every corner,” she said. “In Paris, there is barely any space for new buildings. [Besides,] I really love marketing. My mother used to work in one of the top advertising agencies in France and I would visit her there. I liked the ambience. I would even get paid to see what I thought of a paper and I found that so cool that it stuck with me.”
“When I was 11 [and Dean was 8], our parents decided to get out of city life and move to the south of France in Aix-en-Provence,” Lani said. She eventually moved back to Paris by herself to pursue her college degree at 18. During this time, their father had left for Cebu and reopened the business.
“Her college, Université Paris Dauphine, was really tough,” Dean said. “But it is the best public school in France for business.”
Lani disclosed how having to bounce back early turned out to be a blessing in disguise: “Living alone and adjusting to a new city, I was really lucky the first year because I almost failed. In the summer, I was able to make up for two subjects and because I got better grades than those who did well the first time. My average was better.” This was an advantage for her school’s bidding system, which allowed students to continue semesters abroad.
Out of a thousand applicants, Lani was selected to continue her studies in Singapore and Hongkong, as well as to finish the second year of her master’s degree at Fundação Getulio Vargas in Brazil. However, not long after Lani’s first job as packaging manager in a branding agency, then in a cosmetic company, her father asked her to join him in reviving La Galuche in Cebu.
Only three years apart, it is clear that Lani has the stronger personality between the two siblings. Dean exudes a quiet, easygoing charm.
“We were both spoiled as kids but he was treated like a prince!” Lani chided. “We both had a ‘yaya’—which is uncommon in France— we were very spoiled and lucky to have home cooked Filipino food too.”
Dean admitted that he is very close to their mother. “When Lani left for college and dad went to Cebu, it was just me and my mom in our house in Aix-en-Provence for three years,” he said.
Both siblings spoke highly of the small city near Marseilles where the famous Montagne Saint-Victoire towers in its east. Lani even referred to it as “the most beautiful city in France.” Dean, who played American football in high school, especially likes the Aix’s weather and terrain: “Growing up in the south was nice. It’s always sunny and the lifestyle is relaxed. It’s also ideal for extreme sports. It’s close to the sea. The Alps are accessible and you can ski. There’s even a lake if you want to go wakeboarding.
“I studied business/advertising in Ecole de Management Léonard De Vinci in Paris,” Dean continued. “Lani and I shared a flat for a year when I was a freshman and she was in her fourth year, but she traveled a lot because of her studies.” In his third year, Dean chose to complete his six-month internship abroad at La Galuche in Cebu where he was reunited with his father and sister.
Working for their father’s business for the first time garnered mixed reactions from Lani and Dean. Said Lani, “My father is not the type to delegate or teach [since he is used to being a one-man trader] so I had a lot to figure out at first, including creating my own position. I worked on a company policy and started handing out a memo whenever someone was late. It was a challenge because some of the factory workers who came back from before have known me since I was in diapers!”
Culture was also an initial obstacle for her: “Before then, I had never worked in the Philippines and had to adjust to the local work practices. Looking back, I’m proud of how I gradually broke in but at the time, I was a young girl who didn’t know anything about furniture or stingray but at the same time had to tell everyone what to do. I’m stronger now.” Recognizing Lani and Dean’s creative talents and drive to grow the company, their father felt confident entrusting La Galuche to them, which allowed him to fulfill his desire of sailing and traveling the world.
When Dean entered the company in 2009, he said that La Galuche already had a good system in place and was doing very well in the market as a high-end furniture player. Much credit is due to their father who has built valuable and long-term relationships with suppliers and clients over the years.
Today, Lani and Dean complement each other in managing La Galuche. “We have a common trust,” Dean said. “If she goes on a trip, I cover for her and vice versa.” Of the 22-year-old, Lani said: “I may be more organized but he has the swag, the people skills. The employees love him. He gets along well with everyone.”
Lani recalled what Dean had texted her only two months after he started working for the company: “I’m with Chris Burch [Tory Burch’s husband.] He just bought the showroom.”
“I swear I was ready to retire at that point!” she joked.
“Eighty percent of our production is custom-made or exclusive for clients,” Dean explained. “The rest is our own line, which is influenced by the styles of 1920’s art deco French designers, like Jean Michel Frank and Clement Rosseau. As much as we would love to make new collections, with the demand from clients who outsource from us at the moment, we can’t squeeze in those items.” La Galuche only has a total of 50 employees including the Pasquets but has been catering exclusively to major international design labels like Ralph Lauren, Asprey, and Tory Burch, to name a few.
“The main key of our business is the raw materials,” said Dean. “Shagreen is our number one product and is also the most expensive because it is rare. Shagreen comes from a specific ray with a scaly, hard skin in the Indian Ocean. A piece inlayed in stingray will last forever. I can say that we produce best-quality skins in the world.”
La Galuche also uses other raw materials such as the skins of python, crocodile, shark, ostrich and goat, combined with shells, cow bone, ebony, cedar and other exotic woods. There are almost no limits to what their skilled workers can handcraft from the combination of these materials and from the dyeing process that produces every color imaginable. One client wanted a bedside table to match his curtains so he sent a swatch of cloth from the drapes for La Galuche to recreate the exact same color.
“Only a few designers carry our pieces,” Lani said. “Most of the people who order from us want something special and every piece is different. For instance, we once customized a cabinet for Brooke Shields with a special color and with skull heads as handles.
Their biggest project to date was for the The Ritz Carlton in Pudong, Shanghai. The hotel property, which was named as 2011’s Best Hotel in the World by an international travel magazine, has walls of shagreen in the elevators and presidential suites.
La Galuche’s continuous string of achievements has resulted in the siblings’ settling in Cebu for some time now. Lani has been in a relationship with Cebuano businessman Jay Chiongbian for the past two years and the two even collaborated together on a new lifestyle lounge GILT, of which her boyfriend is the owner.
Dean has also blended well with the local scene, having made a lot of friends himself. As for the business, whether they decide to expand the factory to accommodate more orders or to seek new materials to diversify their product line, it is only a matter of time and choice. Between these two young go-getters, who knows what else they are capable of accomplishing?
- by Pia Echevarria
- sittings editor Katsy Borromeo
- production manager David Jones Cua
- production assistant Danica Ronquillo
- photography Anne Lorraine Uy
- creative director Mikey Sanchez
- grooming Ramil Solis and Hyatt Laurel
- locale Crimson Resort & Spa
Congratulations to Our New DOT Secretary! The Story of Cebu’s Power Couple
Congratulations to Our New DOT Secretary!
The Story of Cebu’s New Power Couple
Whether it’s spearheading progressive efforts in Liloan or spending weekends with their kids, Christina and Duke Frasco do things as a team. On their ninth year as a wedded couple, they share a side of themselves we haven’t seen before.
Republished from Zee’s Digital Issue dated January 2018
by Gia Mayola photography Dan Douglas Ong sittings editor Shari Quimbo hair and makeup Arnauld stylist Vanessa East
Despite it being a day for family, Christina and Duke Frasco gamely accepted our Sunday-scheduled photo shoot. Not that they had any choice, considering that most days found their schedules fully packed.
The dynamic couple is hard to pin down for a reason. Christina is the mayor of Liloan, a first-class municipality in Cebu. On the other hand, Duke was appointed Cebu Port Authority Commissioner by President Rodrigo Duterte just last year, willingly giving up his position as Liloan’s vice-mayor alongside his wife. While they have a lot on their plate because of work, having three young children is an added responsibility.
Driven by her administration’s goals for sustainable and inclusive development, Christina has introduced various innovations to public leadership, focusing on stakeholder participation in community governance and equitable access to government service.
She established the Liloan Community Action for Reforestation and Environmental Sustainability (LILOAN CARES), which brings community stakeholders together to periodically engage in environment programs. She also put up a Green Points System, which grants incentives to businesses that implement environment-friendly measures. Additionally, she has introduced an engaging approach to recycling in schools, and prohibits the use of plastics on certain days of the week. She has also founded Operation Second Chance providing rehabilitation and livelihood to drug surrenderees, and the Liloan Leading Empowered Action Against Drugs Summit (LILOAN LEADS), among many others.
On his end, Duke is a dynamic and engaging leader who thrives under pressure and focuses on realizing long-term goals and sustainable development. His governance has garnered him multiple awards—The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines Award 2014 for Public Administration, from the Junior Chamber International (JCI), Inc. and the Gerry Roxas Foundation.
With his first two terms as mayor, Liloan elevated from a third-class municipality to a first-class one. He boldly spearheaded a comprehensive overhaul of the municipal tax code, and the modernization of local business processes.
THE LOVE OF LILOAN
Goal-driven and full of ideals, the couple has helped develop Liloan into what it is today. The municipality is one of the most progressive in Cebu, even establishing the Liloan Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Federation during Christina’s term, the first in the country spearheaded by a local government unit. Liloan prides itself in having the first LGU-established gender-neutral public restroom in the country.
“Our dream is to become a city,” Christina divulges. She envisions Liloan as an ideal place to live, study, work and invest. “In preparation for that, we are focusing on improving public infrastructure, opening up and improving road networks, and ensuring strict compliance with our Zoning Ordinance and Comprehensive Land Use Plans to ensure that development is regulated, deliberate and sustainable.”
This year, Liloan is launching tour packages that will feature its cottage industries and various tourist sites. Health services are being professionalized, scholarship programs expanded, and more investments channeled into its law enforcement and disaster response programs.
“We are also enhancing our community governance programs focused on protecting the environment, providing economic opportunities through livelihood, and reaching out to all sectors and stakeholders by incentivizing participation and compliance with our laws and regulations,” Christina adds.
Duke shares that every now and then, he offers input to his wife. “I advice Christina on various matters, especially regarding the projects started during my term, such as our scholarship program and purok system,” he says. “Being the party chairman of our local political party, I am also in continued contact with our local leaders.”
THE PORT AUTHORITY
Beyond Liloan, Duke is enjoying his new position. “Since the thrust of the Cebu Port Authority spans the entire Province of Cebu, I am grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to improving the transport of people and goods throughout Cebu, through the continued improvement of existing ports and establishment of new ports.”
New ports, such as the plans of moving the Cebu International Port north, off the coasts of Consolacion and Liloan to decongest the city.
“A port is always a welcome development considering it will further boost the economy of Liloan and Consolacion, and the entire Northern Cebu,” Duke says. “It provides livelihood opportunities for our people, which are relevant factors for cityhood. Moreover, the more ports, international or domestic, that we develop here, the better it will be for the people of Cebu.”
The addition of more ports will complement the project he has been working on the past year, the ferry boat system. He laments the terrible traffic that Cebuanos experience each day, comparing the travel time it takes from Liloan to Cebu City ten years ago and now. The ferry boat system includes developing ports in strategic locations in the Province of Cebu, connecting ferries or boats that can accommodate 80 to 200 people per boat. That includes room for motorcycles and possibly vehicles.
Duke expects this to be a game changer for the Cebuano. “Hopefully, it will relieve us of the stress and frustration we experience each day going through Cebu traffic,” he says. “I can just imagine our fellow Cebuanos feeling relaxed on a boat, feeling the sun and sea breeze on their faces, as opposed to the honking of horns and uneasiness of sitting in a PUJ or in your vehicles, not knowing whether they will arrive on time at their destination.”
Aside from his work with the Cebu Port Authority, Duke is also involved with his family’s business Titay’s as the Chief Financial Officer, and as a member of the Board of Directors.
A GREAT PAIR
It’s evident that the two make a great pair. They met back in June 2007 at Gwendolyn Garcia’s—Christina’s mother—inauguration as the re-elected Governor of Cebu. Duke was among the officials invited to attend, having just been elected into his first term as the Mayor of Liloan. Christina had just recently passed the bar exams and became a lawyer.
“I suppose you could say that we met at a time when both of us were at a turning point in our lives,” Christina recalls. “It is a blessing that our paths crossed at a time that it did. I was taken by Duke’s charisma. To me, he exuded kindness and humility. Of course, bonus sad gyud na guapo kaayo siya (it’s a bonus that he’s so handsome)!”
“I thought she was beautiful, elegant and well-spoken,” Duke adds. “When we were introduced, I was speechless!”
They’re naturals in front of the camera, effortlessly settling into the poses the photographer asks them to do. At one point, they’re locked in an intimate embrace and looking into each others’ eyes. Duke sweeps in for a kiss that makes everyone in the studio coo.
“I couldn’t help it,” Duke defends himself with a laugh, holding Christina closer as she giggles.
“He can’t resist me,” she tells us with raised eyebrows.
The couple comes from political families, and it’s interesting to note that neither of the two had initial plans of running
for office. Duke was in the audit and finance industry in the US, working for global consulting firm Protiviti right after finishing his double degree in Business Administration (Finance and Business Law) and Accounting at the Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
“I had no plans at all,” Duke admits. “My father, who had been Mayor then Vice-Mayor, died unexpectedly. The barangay captains of Liloan contacted me because the wanted to have me run for the position. It took me a couple of years before I finally decided to come home and run for Mayor in 2006.”
On Christina’s end, she had spent nearly ten years focused on building her career as a lawyer. After graduating from Ateneo Law, she practiced litigation, international arbitration and corporate law with one of the top-tier law firms in the Philippines, Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & Delos Angeles, being the head of its Cebu office.
“I knew that I wanted to make something of myself out of my own achievements, outside of and away from politics,” Christina shares. “I must say though that being exposed to public service at a young age led me to an inclination to help others. I always felt a sense of duty to my country, because that’s what I saw in my family as I was growing up.”
Despite initially having no plans to follow in their family’s political path, they both express a deep appreciation and admiration for their respective families’ contributions to Cebu. “He was Mayor of Liloan for close to a decade, but served Liloan all his life,” Duke says about his father, the late Panphil B. Frasco or Dodong Daku. “He was a man of the people, and Liloanons still speak of his kindness and humility to this day. I also greatly admire my uncle Gerardo ‘Dodong Gamay’ Frasco, for his pragmatism and wisdom, which has guided our family to carrying on the Titay’s legacy spanning 111 years.”
“For me, they have set the bar to which I would like to contribute to Cebu as a Cebuano,” Christina says of her own family. “For his statesmanship and brilliant legal mind, my grandfather, former Governor and Deputy Speaker Pablo P. Garcia. For her passion towards community development and social justice, my grandmother, the late Judge and Cebu CFI Community Cooperative founder Esperanza F. Garcia. For her great love for Cebu and legendary work ethic, my mom, former Governor Gwen F. Garcia.”
As two young personalities in government, they hope to be able to empower people through education. For ten years now since Duke’s first term and continuing though Christina’s current term, they have a scholarship program that has benefitted over 6,000 students.
They believe that an educated population is an empowered population, capable of becoming financially independent and discerning in their choices. “For us, this is key to breaking out of the bonds of poverty and patronage,” Christina affirms.
The Frascos hope to introduce innovations to governance, like reducing redundancies and bureaucracy through the use of technology, and being more connected and transparent through the use of social media. They also support the call for Federalism, believing that it will give local governments more leeway and funding in improving local infrastructure and creating more locally-relevant projects for the people.
Considering that standpoint, it’s no surprise how vocal the couple has been in their support for the controversial President Rodrigo Duterte. “President Duterte has political will, and he is a law and order President,” they say. “We believe that his extensive executive experience sets him apart as a leader because he knows the value of enforcing the law in order to have a stable society. At the same time, he recognizes the necessity of governing in a manner that is compassionate and responsive to the needs of the people.”
In the face of many conflicting views toward the President’s brand of leadership, both Duke and Christina acknowledge that opposition is necessary for a working democracy, but hope that Filipinos can come together and support his national agenda of building a stable and peaceful society. “We owe it to our country to set aside what divides us, and to unite behind our common goal of attaining a better life for our countrymen and for our children.”
Aside from their daily responsibilities, the couple also fosters their own advocacies. With education being high on Duke’s list of priorities, Christina also extends efforts for the empowerment of women and children. “The promotion of inclusive development as well—giving equitable opportunities to vulnerable sectors such as the LGBT and the youth,” she adds.
Being in the government means a lot of responsibility for the couple, and a typical day for them is being up 6:00 in the morning to have breakfast with their children before school, then going to their respective offices for work.
For Duke, work is either at the Cebu Port Authority to attend board meetings, or at their Frasco Group Office to attend to business matters. He also attends to pressing concerns in Liloan if need be, which shows how he is still dedicated to it even if he is no longer its Vice-Mayor.
Christina is either at the Municipal Hall to sign papers, attend meetings and meet constituents at the office, or scheduling visits to Liloan’s barangays and puroks.
To keep from getting too stressed or burnt out, Duke says, “I go to the gym and I run. I also like to Netflix and chill.”
Christina, on the other hand, makes time to paint and experiment with new dishes for Duke and their kids. She mentions that, if their schedules permit, they try to devote their weekends to their kids—watching movies, eating out, and traveling. “When Duke and I get home, we also make a conscious decision not to talk about work,” she finishes.
A COUPLE AT WORK
While some people might find the idea of a married couple working together as a possible hindrance to getting things done, the Frascos think otherwise. To them, it is an advantage because their vision and values are aligned. “We are able to enjoy our victories together, and we’re able to lift each other up in tough times, knowing that we will have each other’s back,” they share.
Duke and Christina are celebrating their ninth wedding anniversary this year, and it’s no question that the romance is still very much alive between them. They share that their marriage is anchored on their love for each other, their love for their family, and their shared goals for the future.
At the same time, they emphasize that retaining a sense of individuality is also important, along with having a healthy respect for each other’s differences. Compromise is key, and they constantly make sure to keep their values and goals in check, adjusting each other’s expectations as necessary and working out their differences.
Considering all that Duke and Christina have accomplished at a young age, we had to ask if they had plans of running for higher office. “We have great plans for the future, not just for ourselves, but also for our family and for Liloan,” they said. “As Cebuanos, we would like to continue to contribute to the development of Cebu. However, we also realize that ultimately, it is for the people to decide whether they would want us to continue to serve. As for the rest, it is in God’s hands. So we are focused on doing as much as we can in the here and now, with the opportunities that we have been given, for which we feel very blessed.”
Citizens of the World: CAMPAIGN 2KRAINE
Citizens of the World: CAMPAIGN 2KRAINE
By Eva Gullas
“We are all citizens of the world. What’s good for you, must be good for all. If you are lost, share a plate with a stranger… you will find who you are.”
-Jose Andres, renowned Spanish Chef and founder of World Central Kitchen
Where there are humanitarian disasters, you will find the volunteers of World Central Kitchen. In their midst will be local chefs, most of them inspired by its iconic founder, celebrity chef José Andrés. Founded in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake in 2010, World Central Kitchen established its “chef network,” of global professional chefs. The vision was for a kind of “chefs without borders” program where volunteers would enact positive change by cooking using local knowledge and resources. Last year, they even came to the island of Siargao in response to an Instagram plea for help after typhoon Odette almost levelled this idyllic paradise. WCK sponsored 2 community kitchens for 2 months serving 250 to 500 meals per day in Siargao.
Chef José Andrés was born in Spain where he honed his culinary skills at the eponymous El Bulli under Ferran Adria. By the time he moved to the US in 1991, he was well on his way to being part of the celebrity chefs, with his Bazaar restaurant at the then SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills a favorite hang-out for Hollywood stars. Michelin stars and James Beard awards followed closely. These days though, Jose Andres spends his time in kitchens all over the world while his top rated chain of restaurants in the US continue to thrive. There’s a Bazaar restaurant at Las Vegas and Miami, and if you happen to be in the area, check out their amazing servings – it’s worth the splurge especially since it is owned by this great humanitarian!
With the Ukraine invasion delivered to us in sharp details tru social media and TV, it’s hard to ignore. And so, it was a natural conversation to be able to do something about it even in a small way. On a full-moon evening a few days ago, joining us at a beachside home for dinner was Matthew Wood, the German singer guest of Miranda Konstantiniduo who is here for a few days to shoot his latest music video. Sated with a good meal by the sea, we idly discussed a fund raising event with Matthew. We have been so engrossed with local politics and a looming election in just 2 months, that it was refreshing to talk about something bigger than our small world. Butch Carungay, seated in front of me, took the idea to heart and by the following day, he had the graphics for the event, and a ready rolodex of possible donors for the silent auction. Getting on board the following night was Carlo Cordaro, who happily lent us the second level of Asmara Resort. To complement Matthew, Cebuana singer Doods Osmena also will belt out a few songs. An impressive list of items for the silent auction is being compiled by Butch, composed of overnight stays at top resorts, artworks and furniture pieces from named artists. We will post a list on the day of event.
It is sponsored by Zee Publications Inc., in our first foray after having been dormant during the pandemic and typhoon Odette. Zee will soon be launching a new artsy printed magazine called Eatz Cebu!
This Friday, March 25, at 6pm, we open the doors of Asmara Urban Resort (see map) for this fundraising where we hope you can join us by donating a minimum of $50 to the World Central Kitchen directly at https://wck.org/donate. It will be an evening of fun and fundraising, and entry is tru an email or digital receipt of your donation.
On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. By February 25, 2022, Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen (WCK) was on the ground serving free wholesome meals to those fleeing the violence. Chef Andrés and his volunteers have already served more than one million meals to Ukrainian refugees, from basements, train stations, and shelters. Still, cooking and distributing food in a war zone comes with unique challenges. “We began operations…over two weeks ago inside Lviv,” says Andrés. “The last two days we saw some missiles falling down. So, the western side of Ukraine, that actually was a safe haven for many Ukrainians leaving war, is already kind of feeling like the war is getting closer.” For Andrés, it’s a humanitarian necessity and a call he answers. “The least we can do at World Central Kitchen is be next to them – making sure they will be fed every day.”
What Makes an Empowered Woman? Let’s take it from Megaworld Hotels and Resorts’ Managing Director, Cleofe Albiso
What is an empowered woman made of? Managing Director Cleofe Albiso of Megaworld Hotels and Resorts, the Philippines’ largest homegrown hospitality chain with 4,000 room keys and 11 hotels, composes her thoughts and shares that its grit, resilience, and love.
Settling in on her new leadership role at the start of the new year, Albiso looks back even way before joining the organization during the last quarter of 2019 as its Group General Manager. It comes as a surprise when she shares that her years takes her back from being a pre-school teacher in Cebu using her degree in Bachelor of Science in Education major in mathematics finishing Magna Cum Laude. After a while, and with doors opening for her to join the corporate world, she finds herself earning her years in sales and marketing where she has gathered decades worth of exemplary experience being part of the country’s biggest telecommunications group and international hospitality brands.
With the highs and blows of life and as well as business, she shares that “An empowered woman needs to have grit”. The will to persevere and continue with passion has become her brand of leadership in serving not just clients and guests, but as well as taking care of the people she works with. Through her dedication, Albiso has since continued to climb the corporate ladder and was also recognized as the first Filipino General Manager of a Marriott International branded property in the country, the Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo that is also one of Megaworld Corporation’s many other operated international hotels in the Philippines.
Fast forward to today, she looks at the future with gratefulness as she embraces the opportunity to empower the lives of 2,000 employees present across 11 hotels and not to mention 3 more properties opening this year as well as in 2023. She shares that “My responsibility can only be best tackled by filling my heart with gratitude and keeping my purpose in close check when times get challenging.”
More than ever, she has come to understand that “Resilience is her way of life.” She explains that challenges come and go along with every solution that solves each one of them. Safe to say, what she considers as the biggest one yet would have to be this pandemic. Albiso hopes that after a two year pause and struggle of the industry “My constant prayer is for our fellow Filipinos to help us recover by patronizing homegrown brands for them to explore the Philippines and travel again.” She said that in doing so “this will mean more jobs for the hospitality and tourism practitioners and boost confidence in the total industry to go back on full swing once again.”
Admittedly, despite being one of the industries at the frontline of the pandemic, she can still say that “The culture of appreciation in our very own organization has been better strengthened during these times”. The company lives by the Circle of Happiness. She explains that “Our organization operates with a culture that reminds us to love ourselves, our families, our work, our community with the love of God at the center of everything we do.” This pandemic has better reminded them to strive to take care of the wholistic well-being of each employee from physical to emotional and even mental health.
On top of that, Albiso gathers that what allows them to thrive is their team’s collective ability to take care of their key stakeholders, execute efforts geared towards sustaining the business, and making people stay and work passionately. She further adds “We are a work in progress and there are many more business and service facets that we are focusing on improving” and humbly claims that “The best years for Megaworld Hotels and Resorts are yet to come.”
When asked about what her best advice to fellow women would be as they reach for their dreams, she said “I only found genuine fulfillment when I started having a relationship with God. It is only by accepting that we cannot do things by ourselves that we become dependent on our creator.” According to her it is important “That we do not give credit to our talent, creativity and hard work (alone) but give glory to the one above us who have blessed us with all that.”
At present, their properties are continuously looking to hire qualified applicants for vacant positions in front office, security, information technology, food and beverage, sales & marketing, human resources and engineering for Belmont Hotel Manila and Savoy Hotel Manila within Newport City in Pasay across NAIA terminal 3, Kingsford Hotel Manila located in the Entertainment City of Paranaque, Hotel Lucky Chinatown in Binondo, Twin Lakes Hotel near Tagaytay, Eastwood Richmonde Hotel in Quezon City, Richmonde Hotel Ortigas in Pasig, Richmonde Hotel Iloilo in Iloilo Business Park of Iloilo City, Belmont Hotel Boracay or Savoy Hotel Boracay located at the Newcoast Boracay and Savoy Hotel Mactan Newtown in Cebu.
For more information about how you can be part of Megaworld Hotels and Resorts, kindly email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also inquire about your future stays through email@example.com or connect with them through any of Megaworld Hotels and Resorts’ and its properties’ social media pages.
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